Although Zion Williamson's New Orleans Pelicans left Madison Square Garden with a 122-112 defeat at the hands of the New York Knicks on Sunday, the second-year sensation couldn't speak more highly of his first time playing in the Big Apple as a pro.
"New York is the mecca of basketball. I love playing here," Williamson told reporters postgame. "I played here in college, and this is my first time playing here in the pros. This atmosphere, whether they're cheering for you, whether they're booing for you, it's amazing.
"Honestly, I think - outside of New Orleans, obviously - I think this might be my favorite place to play ... I can't even lie to you."
Williamson previously played at Madison Square Garden in December 2018 during his lone year at Duke. Appearing alongside then-teammate and current Knicks wing RJ Barrett, Williamson and the Blue Devils triumphed over eventual national finalists Texas Tech.
If not for a few pingpong balls, Williamson might currently be calling New York home. After finishing with the league's worst record in 2018-19, the Knicks held a 14% chance of winning the 2019 draft lottery, tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns for the highest odds to get the first pick.
Instead, the Pelicans won the Williamson sweepstakes despite having just a 6% chance of winning the lottery.